2021 Best & Brightest Business Major: RJ Finley, Texas Christian University (Neeley)

RJ Finley

Texas Christian University, Neeley School of Business

“Passionate about thin-crust pizza, the Yankees, Jon Pardi, and my Outlook Calendar.”

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve watched the Fourth of July celebration from the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

Hometown: Tustin, CA

High School: Arnold O. Beckman High School (Irvine, CA)

Major: Finance

Minor: Accounting

Favorite Business Course: Special Problems in Finance: Alternative Asset Investments

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College: BNSF Neeley Leadership Program (President); Beta Theta Pi (VP of External Programming & Recruitment Committee); TCU Volleyball Program (Student Assistant); Cook Children’s Hospital (Volunteer/Fundraiser); Dream Outside the Box (Volunteer); International Justice Mission (Member); TCU Kinderfrogs (Volunteer); Neeley Heritage Scholarship (Recipient)

Where have you interned during your college career?

JPMorgan Chase & Co. | Fort Worth, TX | Private Bank Summer Analyst

White Nelson Diehl Evans | Irvine, CA | Tax Intern

RPM Mortgage | Newport Beach, CA | Loan Officer Intern

Where will you be working after graduation? (Include company and title)

JPMorgan Chase & Co. | Fort Worth, TX | Private Bank Analyst

What company do you admire most? JPMorgan’s commitment to innovating the financial services sector and emphasis they put on their human capital is unparalleled. Experiencing this first-hand during my internship last summer, it is incredibly apparent that the people is what makes this company great. Every person I interacted with was driven, respectful, had a thirst for accumulating knowledge, and wanted to elevate the client experience. The initiative they have taken in not only the financial world, but in a plethora of global issues is incredible. It was an easy decision to return to JPM after graduation and I could not be more thrilled to be a part of their mission.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? It was the importance of building and leveraging relationships. This lesson was one that I discovered early in my freshman year. The power of people is something that cannot be quantified into numbers. Putting yourself out there in order meet new individuals from a variety of backgrounds is not an easy thing to do. However, it may be the most crucial skill for a business student today. Having a network full of mentors who you can learn from and ask difficult questions to is the best way to learn. People’s experiences provide a different type of education and growth than a collegiate textbook possibly can. Learning about others’ failures and successes makes you think about your own goals and provides a framework for professional and personal growth. I would not be where I am today without the relationships I have formed both at TCU and beyond. I am excited to continue listening more than I speak and gain knowledge from those around me in the process.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? Pursue what fascinates you and do not stop until you find it. One of the best ways to do this is to take classes that sound interesting and will push you outside of your comfort zone. The best thing that an undergraduate business education does is that it allows you to find out who you are. It allows you to analyze your interests and values, giving you ample opportunities to find jobs that align with such. Failure comes with this process and cannot be a detriment to your experience. Embracing failure, learning from it, and strategizing ways to come out better than you were before is all a part of the four-year process. Find what you love throughout your time in college and turn that passion into a career.

Looking back over your experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently in business school and why? In hindsight, minoring or having more course experience in a data-driven field such as Supply Chain or Business Information Systems would have been incredibly beneficial. Our world today is being driven by Big Data and technology at every turn. Even the financial sector spends more money on software development and technology enhancement than anything else. Taking additional courses to learn the fundamentals of this fast-growing industry would have been a change to my undergraduate education that I would have made.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? Serving as the President of the Neeley Leadership Program was an incredibly impactful experience on my undergraduate education. Helping facilitate every aspect of the program from technical curriculum decisions to enhancing the overall cohort experience was extremely rewarding. It allowed me to interact with key stakeholders throughout Neeley, TCU, and the entire Fort Worth community.

I am proud of the work of the entire NLP Cabinet and the adjustments we made during an unprecedented year. This position helped foster personal growth and develop key professional skills that will follow along over the course of my career. I was fortunate enough to work with some incredibly impressive individuals whose ideas helped drive the program’s mission. Being able to lead an Honors Business program gave me a real look into a management role and I cannot thank NLP enough for all that they have done for me.

Which classmate do you most admire? Chris Crump (TCU Graduate 2020) has been a friend and role model of mine since I stepped on campus four years ago. He is one of the most selfless people I know and would drop anything at any time to assist someone else. On top of that, Chris is one of the most intelligent people I have ever met and speaks with a vocabulary that I strive to mimic myself. Besides being a classmate, Chris is a fraternity brother, and former President of the Neeley Leadership Program. His wisdom and advice are something I always keep at the forefront of my mind and I am thankful that TCU and the Neeley school helped foster our relationship.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My family has been my biggest supporters since day one. They show me constant encouragement, and love at every turn. I would not be the person I am today without their guidance and showing me what it means to do your best in every situation. My parents have always shown what it means to work hard and live by your values. They are the first to help me stay poised and slow down when uncertainties arise. My brother has a level of drive that is incredibly honorable and something I try to replicate in my own life. Each of them played a pivotal role in where I am today and I could not be more grateful for them.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  1. Spend some time working in a foreign country.
  2. Stay connected to the TCU community and serve as a mentor to future students.

What are your hobbies? Playing golf, spending time with friends, and enjoying the outdoors. Deep sea fishing and snowboarding in the mountains are two of my favorites. Lots of my time is also dedicated to trying new restaurants and enjoying good food. My top picks so far have been the pasta in Florence and the brisket from Heim in Fort Worth.

What made RJ Finley such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2021?

“I have known RJ for nearly three years, and worked closely with him in class and in the BNSF Neeley Leadership Program where I am the Academic Director. Admission to this program is by competitive selection, and it is available each year only to a small and elite group of 30 of our undergraduate students in the business school.

RJ was in my Leadership Challenge course in the Spring 2020 semester (the fourth in the sequence of five courses in the leadership program), and I also worked with him in his role as the BNSF-NLP President. RJ is currently a senior in the program, and has developed into an outstanding leader here at TCU. Based on my interactions with RJ both in and out of class, I believe that his academic preparation, his leadership acumen, his work ethic, and his efforts to challenge himself both personally and professionally make him an outstanding candidate for the Poets and Quants Best and Brightest award.

I had the opportunity to work with and observe RJ throughout the year-long “impact project” that the NLP members complete during the two semesters of their junior year. In my experience with RJ, his academic performance was very strong. Importantly, in this leadership program, the emphasis is not just on knowledge acquisition, but also on skill development, professional growth, relationship management, and (perhaps most importantly) closing the “knowing-doing gap,” and RJ has excelled in all of these areas. He holds himself to high standards, and elevates those around him as well. He has not only worked at understanding, but also acting upon the principles of team formation and leadership, conflict resolution, communication, values integration, and facilitation that form important elements of their curricular and co-curricular experiences. He has been a positive and uplifting influence on his team members and other peers throughout the course and program. I am confident that he will be a strong leader wherever he goes in the future.

Through my involvement in their impact projects and in the NLP, I often have the opportunity to get to know my students better than in more traditional academic coursework. This is particularly true in the NLP, where I have the opportunity to build relationships with the students over a three-year span of time. As I have worked with RJ, I have found him to have an engaging and inquisitive mind, to be committed to his own development as well as to helping others achieve their best, and to be a serious student and assertive leader, yet also a friendly and socially apt individual. He has consistently demonstrated strong writing and presentation skills, and his contributions to discussions (in and out of class) and developmental exercises have likewise been thoughtful and well regarded.

In my interpersonal interactions with RJ, I have found him to be articulate and expressive, and capable of effectively managing his professional relationships. In discussions with faculty and staff about how to improve the program (something we are continually working on) RJ held his own, making strong contributions, exploring ideas with students in the program, and promptly following through with needed work outside of those meetings.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I believe that RJ is a person of integrity, working with honesty and a positive ethical stance in his various activities. Thus, I am pleased to strongly recommend him for the Poets and Quants Undergrad Best and Brightest for 2021.”

Gregory K. Stephens, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Management and Leadership
Academic Director, BNSF Neeley Leadership Program
M.J. Neeley School of Business
Texas Christian University


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